The family name Bodman occurs in the following countries: Germany, England (and Wales), Scotland, France, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden. Due to the global distribution of the name the following study has been subdivided by country.
There are two main historic concentrations of the Bodman name: in England, with a strong historic focus on the counties of Wiltshire and Somerset; and in the south-west of what is now Germany, with a strong focus on the small town of Bodman, which is a former Hapsburg Palatinate situated at the north-western tip of the Bodensee (the latter is also known as "Lake Constance").
The Bodman history in Germany has been very well documented and there are several authoratitive and scholarly sources published in German. The most significant of these is the Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels (GHdA) [The Genealogical Handbook of Nobility] published by Starke Verlag at Limburg in 158 volumes over the years between 1951 and 2015. The GHdA is published in three parallel series: Freiherrliche Hauser [Baronial Houses]; Graefliche Hauser [Houses of Counts]; and Fuerstliche Hauser [Princely Houses]. The lineage of the Bodmans of Bodman (von Bodman zu Bodman, or ... von und zu Bodman) appears in the Freiherrliche Hauser and also in the Graefliche Hauser. There is also a two-volume study (one volume of text plus one volume of charts) written by Johann Leopold Freiherr von und zu Bodman: Geschichte der Freiherren von Bodman [History of the Barons of Bodman], published in 1894. Both volumes are available in digital format and can be downloaded (free) from the website of the university of Freiburg-im-Breisgau. The authors of these materials in German trace the origins of the name back into "the mists of time", with recorded evidence of the 'Bodman' spelling going back to the twelfth century and other spellings going back even further.
The Bodman history in England has been extensively researched by the following people: Mr Martin Bodman (a professional geographer who has a presence in cyberspace as one of the people contributing to the Geograph Project documenting the landscape of the West Country); Professor Charles Bodman Rae (who has produced an unpublished booklet on Bodman Families of North Wiltshire, circulated to family members and deposited in the archives in Chippenham and Bodman); and Dr Roger Hancock (who traces his Bodman line back to the Wiltshire village of Keevil). For the period since the introduction of parish registers (in the mid sixteenth century) the two main concentrations of Bodmans in Wiltshire have been in and around Calne (researched by Martin Bodman and Charles Bodman Rae), and Keevil (researched by Roger Hancock and Paul Bodman). One of the earliest records of a Bodman in England relates to the seventh Augustinian Prior of Stavordale in Somerset, who died in 1361. In the primary source his name is recorded as 'Johannis Bodman' (not 'John Bodman'). It is not yet known whether he came from England or from Germany. It is worth noting, in this connection, that the German Bodmans have a very long established tradition (going back long before the fourteenth century) of naming their sons "Johannes". This intriguing observation also has a bearing on how we might consider the identity and origins of the first recorded Bodman in Calne. In the first marriage register for the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Calne, there is a marriage of 6 November 1568 between a "Johannes [Johes] Bodman" and Joane Prowte. It is from this couple that many of the English Bodmans descend. The other area of concentration in Wiltshire is on the parish of Keevil, where the Bodman records also go back to the mid sixteenth century. An interesting genealogical challenge that presents itself is the task of documenting a link between the Bodmans of Calne and the Bodmans of Keevil. It is highly likely that there was such a link, but the task is made awkward due to the religious upheavals of the Tudor period and their effect on the keeping of church records.
The Bodman history in the United States has also been well researched and documented. Four Bodman authors collaborated in the 1970s to research, write and publish a hard-bound volume entitled: The Bodman Chronicle (Evanston, Illinois; Unigraphic Inc., 1979). In this handsomely produced 367-page study the joint authors trace their line back to a single couple, John and Sarah Bodman, who migrated from England as part of the "Great Puritan Migration" in the early seventeenth century and who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Most Bodmans in the United States stem from that line, although there have been subsequent migrations, both from England and from various parts of Germany. The joint authors of The Bodman Chronicle were: Ellen-Fairbanks Diggs Bodman, Professor Herbert Luther Bodman Jr., Professor Richard Wainwright Bodman, and Robert Edgar Bodman. As at 2017 the only surviving member of that group is Emeritus Professor Richard Wainwright Bodman. An important piece of unfinished genealogical business is tracing the link from John and Sarah Bodman back to England. It should be noted that although The Bodman Chronicle refers to Bodmans "in America" this means, in fact, "The United States of America". The book does not refer at all to Bodman settlement in Canada.
As one might expect, the migration of Bodmans to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, was from the English roots. The family of "de Bodman" in France is a nineteenth-century offshoot of the German family "von Bodman". The Bodmans in Sweden are likely to trace their origins to Germany, but this has not yet been properly researched.
Perhaps the three most intriguing questions that lie at the heart of this study are:
a) Do the ancient origins of the English Bodmans lie in Germany? b) Do the ancient origins of the German Bodmans lie in England? c) Did the name develop independently in both Germany and England?
These questions will be difficult to answer. It is likely that they will never be answered, because the available documentation from the twelfth century through to the fourteenth century is at best patchy. But they are important questions, nonetheless, and it is hoped that they may stimulate the research energies of like-minded genealogists (Bodman name bearers, and others) who enjoy a challenge.
The hope is that other researchers - like you - will join our study to help make it a valuable reference point for people studying lines that cross or intersect. Please contact the project leaders if you have any queries. Please add the appropriate Bodman category to your Bodman profiles particularly where there is an interesting story to tell. Please add any questions to the bulletin board and also add details of your name research, etc.
Famous English Bodmans
Cecily Bodenham (died after 1543), was the last Abbess of Wilton Abbey. Although she lived in Wiltshire, she is descended from the Herefordshure, Bodenhams. Her tenure as Abbess was from 1534 to 25 March 1539, when she surrendered the abbey to the commissioners of King Henry VIII of England during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. She received a generous pension and a property at Fovant, where she retired with about ten of the nuns from Wilton. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecily_Bodenham
Famous German Bodmans
Emanuel von Bodman (1874-1946), German writer Reference: 
Heinrich von und zu Bodman (1851-1929), Baden lawyer and politician Reference: 
Franz von Bodmann (1908-1945), German obersturmführer Reference: 
Franz von und zu Bodman (1835-1906), landowner and a member of the German Reichstag Reference: 
Johann Nikolaus von Bodman (1903-1988), German conservationist Reference: 
Johannes Wolfgang von Bodman (1651-1691), German auxiliary bishop in Konstanz (term 1686-1691) Reference: 
Rupert of Bodman (1646-1728) , prince abbot in the monastery Kempten (term 1678-1728) Reference: 
Anne Bodenham (? - 1653) the Wiltshire Witch from Fisherton Anger adjacent to the City of new Sarum in the County of Wiltshire. Anne Bodenham was the ex-servant of John Lambe (or Lamb) (c. 1545 – 13 June 1628) who was an English astrologer who served George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, during the early 17th century. He was accused of black magic and rape and was stoned to death by an unruly mob in London. If we assume the Anne worked for her employer for ten years from aged at least eighteen, she is likely to have been born prior to 1600. According to rumours at the time, she could summon demons and transform herself into a dog, lion, bear, wolf, or monkey. She was arraigned and executed at Salisbury 1653. See Profile below.
John Bodman (1762 - 1817) of Farleigh Hungerford hung for highway Robbery at Ilminster in Dorset in April 1817. See Profile below.
Owen Bodman (? - 1618?) 671. Minutes of a Court held aboard the Moon. Owen Bodman, for burning the Black Lion, breaking open the chests, mutiny, and breaking the master's head, is sentenced to be hanged at the main yard until he be dead ; James Littill, Adam Douglas, and - Domingo, Bodman's confederates, also found guilty of burning the Black Lion, to receive ten stripes upon the bare back aboard each of the seven great ships of the fleet ; Barnard Wright, for his slanderous speeches, to receive 40 lashes aboard the Clove, and then be turned for a foremast man. Victualling of the fleet, four days in the week, flesh one meal a day, the other three days rice, sugar, candy, and butter. Signed by Sir Thomas Dale, Aug. Spalding, Peter Bowers, John Munden, John Hatch, John Roberts, John Cottwell, Richard Yard, William Crascom, Richard Newall, and William Reckes. [This is dated 21 May 1618, evidently by mistake. Two pages and a quarter. O.C., Vol. VII., No. 802.] Reference: